The Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, has once again emphasised the need to urgently decongest the custodial facilities adding that those, on death row, awaiting trial, unable to pay debts and fines or held for minor offences constitute a large percentage of the inmates.
He was speaking at a round table conversation with Prisoner Rehabilitation And Welfare Action (PRAWA) and representatives of Donors/participating development agencies today in Abuja.
Aregbesola therefore expressed the Federal Government’s readiness to partner with relevant stakeholders to decongest Correctional facilities in Nigeria.
According to the Minister, the people in jail houses as first offenders are less than 20%. “Correctional Service has no power over inmates. Whoever the Judiciary ask them to keep, they keep.” “our role is for safe custody of the inmates and also to advise the government”, he added.
While appreciating the Stakeholders for their support, Aregbesola implored them to collaborate with the Federal Government by contributing not only financially but technically and intellectually in order to decongest the custodial centers.
He said most of the inmates currently in custody are inmates who committed state offences which the President has no right to release, revealing that the President has approved a bill that moves Correctional Service to concurrent list.
Corroborating the Minister’s concerns, the Controller General of Nigeria Correctional Service, Halliru Nababa, who was represented, cited the example of the custodial facilty in Port Harcourt which is supposed to accommodate 800 inmates but presently has over 4000 inmates, stating that Correctional Service is ready and will appreciate any support to help decongest the custodial centers.
In his opening remark the Permanent Secretary, Dr. Shuaib Belgore represented by Director Legal Services, commended the Minister for his passion and efforts in the decongestion of custodial facilities in the country, which would be his legacy after his tenure.